ST. PAUL, MN—The biggest annual fundraising event in hearing health care will take place here this Sunday evening, July 20, when the Starkey Hearing Foundation holds the 2014 So the World May Hear gala. A highlight will be the presentation of awards to a number of remarkable humanitarians honoring their dedication to improving the lives of others.
Those singled out this year include a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, an Oscar-winning actor, and a prince. The gala, which last year raised over $8 million, helps the foundation provide 100,000 hearing aids a year to children and adults worldwide. The event, which be held at the RiverCentre in St. Paul, will feature musical performances by several well-known entertainers, including the Grammy Award winners Sammy Hagar and John Legend.
The Starkey Foundation is led by William Austin, founder and CEO of Starkey Hearing Technologies, and Tani Austin, his wife and co-founder of the foundation.
HUMANITARIANS IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Perhaps the best known of the honorees is Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, whose leadership role in ending apartheid in his native South Africa led to his being awarded the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize. In 1995 President Nelson Mandela appointed him chairman of the South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated the human rights violations that occurred under apartheid. His work inspired the foundation of the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre, which is committed to nurturing tolerance and understanding among all people and is guided by the virtues that Archbishop Tutu exemplifies: love, hope, tolerance, and courage.
The Starkey Foundation will also honor the actor and humanitarian Forest Whitaker, founder of the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative. This organization runs a peace-building program in Mexico called the Harmonizer Program. Its mission is to harness the power and the potential of youth to instill and disseminate values, attitudes, and behaviors of peace in conflict-affected areas.
Whitaker, who serves as Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization), is one of America’s most distinguished actors. He has starred in many motion pictures, including Bird, The Crying Game, The Butler, and The Last King of Scotland, where his portrayal of the former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin earned him the Best Actor Oscar.
Prince Seeiso of Lesotho will also receive an award from the foundation as co-founder (with Prince Harry of Great Britain) of Sentebale. This charity is devoted to helping Lesotho’s neediest and most vulnerable children, many of whom are victims of extreme poverty and their nation’s HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Sandi Young will also be honored by the foundation for her Humanitarian contributions, as will Bassam Aramin, Mazen Faraj, Abraham Elhanan, and Ayelet Harel, leaders of the Parents Circle-Families Forum. This grassroots organization of Palestinians and Israelis promotes reconciliation as an alternative to hatred and revenge. The more than 600 families in the forum have all lost family members to violence in the Middle East.
Bill Austin said of the So the World May Hear gala, “We are excited to bring together an incredible group of friends, honorees, and performers to recognize the amazing things we can accomplish by working together. The work we do would not be possible without the generous support we receive at the gala. It enables us to change thousands of lives each year.”
Further information on the event is available at the Starkey Foundation web site.